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Howard County, CB01-2018 Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, County Council Hearing

Hiruy Hadgu

The County Council introduced legislation to modify the County’s adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) earlier in January. I testified at the public hearing that was held on January 16th and urged the Council to not allow developers' interests take precedent over that of school children.

Many arguments have been provided by opponents of stronger standards (scroll down after watching the video).

Some attribute the main source of growth to resales. The fact remains that 42% of the growth in Howard County is still due to new development. This is not an insignificant number. Furthermore, what counts as a resale is not defined. For example, a home built 10 or 15 years ago when the economics of incremental costs are less will have less impact than a home built two years ago. Also, proponents of unrestrained growth can’t have it both ways: you can’t say that the impact on growth from new homes is insignificant and also say the impact of this APFO is cataclysmic at the same time.

At the hearing, many opponents cited a biased and flawed report released two hours before the hearing by the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA).

The HCEDA report was meant to deflate the momentum gained through this bill. WE SHOULD NOT LET IT. The report's main argument is the county will lose tax revenue due to the bill. Any serious report would also have included the expected cost to the county of future development. IT DID NOT. The other aspects of the economic discussions can be made up with any numbers and I hope the Council scrutinizes it by questioning the assumptions made.

The testimonies of affordable housing "advocates" were really surprising to me. Bridges to Housing is an organization affiliated with the County and Howard Hughes that insisted the bill would make affordable housing a problem. I have noticed in Howard County that business, nonprofit, the arts, and government are so intertwined that sometimes it is not clear who is advocating. I also do not give credence to many of their argument. AFFORDABLE HOUSING IS ALREADY A PROBLEM. This is just another argument meant to derail the discussion.

We all need to be there on Monday, January 22nd at 4:30pm for the work session and combat any attempt to use the misleading HCEDA report as well as the "faux" affordable housing advocacy.